2020 in Review: 11 Event Industry Resources & Reflections

As the year unlike any other winds down, it’s a time to take a breath and reflect on what we’ve made it through as an industry, and what may await in the new year.

One outcome of a year full of challenges are the stories of perseverance and creativity in the face of adversity. And the world of events has seen its share of both. As the holidays approach, the zkipster team gathered a collection of highlights and resources to close out the year and a little inspiration for the next.

Food for thought & industry reflections

What translates online, and what isn’t meant to? Noted digital thinker Ben Evans approached the question of solving online events in a thought-provoking way: “In other words, some conferences are built around creating a network in the hallways. If you take them online, there are no hallways.”

From another corner, zkipster CEO David Becker penned an open letter collecting thoughts on the future of the event industry at the end of summer. In short, real-world experiences will return, but transformations are here to stay, and digital is the way forward.

Initial research into in-person event health protocols underscores the kind of transformation that lies ahead – down to even rethinking serving food and drink. Bob Bejan, CVP of Global Events at Microsoft, shared his own thoughts in a short video on Microsoft’s pivot to virtual events in 2020 and how, although never a completely smooth path, digital platforms open up new opportunities to connect with guests.

Although not an event venue as such (impromptu concerts aside), this visual exploration of air flow through a NYC subway train by the New York Times is a fascinating look into the complexities of utilizing shared environments.

Planning ahead for 2021 events

In November, Hong Kong’s first socially-distanced entertainment park opened, and a short video explores the design and layout considerations that went into creating its guest experience.

Over in the United States, rock band The Flaming Lips hosted a novel take on a live concert experience during COVID-19 – 100 attendees in 100 bubbles. An interesting and bespoke approach, but Ticketmaster’s vaccine plan for concert-goers indicates they don’t expect isolated bubbles to be the norm as concerts scale back up.

On a global level, more substantive tools and resources are emerging to help plan ahead. Event network The World’s Best Events published a vetted list of COVID-19 resources for event planners for all major event regions. Georgia Tech University in the US released a COVID-19 risk assessment tool for attending events, based on available data from countries.

Over the summer, the zkipster team hosted a series of global roundtable webinars with eminent event industry leaders on a range of topics, from case studies of successful virtual events to learning from initial insights on pandemic recovery in Asia.

Finally, one of the big topics that has since picked up momentum is sustainability, and its integral role in the future of events. The FIA, responsible for Formula 1 racing, recently announced progress in their switch to sustainable fuel, a milestone along the way of their carbon-zero initiative. Sustainability in fashion has also picked up serious speed, as fashion was forced to evolve dramatically and rapidly during COVID times.

Tahira Endean, speaking about the future of events, summed it up well: “What people are craving now more than ever is ways to connect. It’s about finding ways that you can have those genuine connections with people and build our community around that. And that’s going to be the next piece of the puzzle that we really need to overcome in the next year.”